Eddie Jones leads the barbarians against World XV at Twickenham on Sunday. city today, determined to look better and show that he is well and truly done with being dumped by Bill Sweeney ahead of his first return to Twickenham with the Barbarians on Sunday. “I left,” Jones said. “If they don’t leave, that’s their problem, not mine.”
Maybe it was because of the glorious spring sunshine in London, maybe because of the terms of his non-disclosure agreement, but Jones was remarkably optimistic about his firing by England last December, quickly finding a pullback with Australia. He insists there are no hard feelings or regrets after his seven-year tenure came to an inglorious end. “I had a great time here for seven years, I liked it,” Jones said. “I bet I am the last foreign coach who has been coaching here for seven years. First and last.
Read between the lines, and there are a few digs here and there around England's playing style under his successor, Steve Borthwick, although nothing scathing enough to alert any legal departments. Where there was no ambiguity was that England was in his rearview mirror. The connection was severed. Now he pays attention to them only as potential opponents in the quarterfinals of the World Cup.
“I have been fortunate to coach internationally and when you go to a team I love the team I coach but when I move I have no regrets or bad feelings. “, Jones said. “I want this team to do well, but I no longer have an emotional attachment to this team. This is just one of the six teams of the Six Nations – I watch them and think, like all teams , how would I train them if I had this team, and then if we run into them, I … something already occurred to me.
It will be interesting to see what kind of reaction he will get at Twickenham as head coach of the World XV Barbarians. Will those present judge Jones more on the first half of his reign, when he made Grand Slam and World Cup finals, or on the second half, when they recorded back-to-back Six Nations campaigns? “I have no control over it, so it makes no sense to even think about it,” said Jones, who still makes no apologies for his exceptional focus on the World Cup.
Including his promotion. Marcus Smith on a semi-finished product, which he considers a long-term project.
Smith will take time to mature, says Jones, and whether it's worth it is no longer his problem. Credit: REUTERS/Toby Melville
“If I had my former England team on and I don't, he would be a Richie Moung-type player who takes a long time to mature,” Jones said. “This is a reality, but whether he should grow up, I thought so, but other people should judge this.”
Smith quickly fell out of the Borthwick hierarchy, whose channels of communication with Jones are not what they used to be. “He dried up a bit,” Jones admits.
Jones also did not take issue with Borthwick's assertion that the England team he inherited from his former manager “wasn't good at anything”. Jones said, “It's true. We tried to build a team to win the World Cup. I don't believe you can win the world championship just by kicking. I don't believe that you can. I may be wrong. But I think that with such a ground you will need to play rugby in a more positive way. Steve was right.
“I think it's interesting to watch South Africa in November because they started to play a lot more running kicks and that opened up to their outside defenders. I think this is the trend of the game. You must go fast. You can't just play slowly.”
For now, his focus is on promoting the “values of the game” as the Barbarians and providing Australia with a “hit and grab” template ahead of the World Cup. “We need to work a little harder and we need to create a style of rugby that is quintessentially Australian,” Jones said. “We copy other teams and it's not Australian.”
Jones returned to England with a third Premier League club in London, Ireland, which is on the brink of collapse this season. What's left of Super Rugby is also struggling, and Jones warned that the fundamentals of the sport are getting weaker.
“Generally in the game, we have a problem with storefronts,” Jones said. . “International rugby is the cream of the crop and everyone wants to watch it. If you put on an England match at Twickenham, you'll have 82,000 people there, so international rugby is great.
“If you look in the window of a store [club rugby], the only healthy countries right now are these are the Top 14 [France] and Japan. Other storefronts are unhealthy – you just have to look at the crowds and the economic status of the game. Something needs to be done, but I have nothing to worry about.”